An article on the Christian Worldview Network has really gotten under my skin. The title of the article is It's not easy to be an Atheist. It then proceeds to give 9 assertions about how the atheistic position is inconsistent or fallacious, each supported by a semi-coherent paragraph of straw men and unreasoned drivel. If you would like the read the original article, you can find it here.
In the meantime, I thought I would do my own version called, It's not easy to be a Christian. I don't expect anyone to accept every point I present within the text of the post, but rather my hope is that they gain insight into the more general point that these one-sided fallacious arguments full of straw men and rhetorical regurgitation rather than honest consideration, are written for the reassurance of the already faithful rather than for the unwashed masses. There is no persuasive value in misrepresenting the opposing view except for those too ignorant to realize the differences or too apathetic to pay attention. The value is not based on persuasion, but rather based on reassurance.
A christian assigns himself to life with a hollow purpose. While christians may frequently claim to have an ultimate purpose or ultimate meaning in their lives, they would be hard pressed to define that meaning. Most would only be able to say something vague like their purpose is to "serve God" or be part of "God's plan". But since such an ultimate plan is unknowable, the purpose they claim is empty of any real meaning. To serve can be a purpose, but what can they say is the meaning behind such service? After all, what possible service could an omnipotent being actually require? There is nothing they can accomplish that couldn't be accomplished by their concept of God. They may feel obediance is their duty, but without any greater understanding of meaning, especially in regards to the reasons why an omnipotent being would feel the need to create beings and a world which in his omniscience he knows will contain horrible cruelty and sorrow, that duty can provide no real sense of purpose.
The christian must suppress the demands of logic. The christian must believe in a host of miracles and events which have no comparable occurances in our world and defy the laws of nature that have established themselves so reliably that they have made our modern life possible. Not only must the christian believe that fantastic stories like the dead returning to life, walking on water, magical plagues, and talking snakes, but must also believe that all other stories of this genre associated with alternative religions both past and present are false, despite having similar claims of "evidence". Natural laws have been the most reliable source of understanding, yet the christian must accept that those laws don't apply when it comes to their specific supernatural claims based on their specific divine revelation.
Ironically the christian must believe in natural laws without believing in natural causes. Christians must believe in natural laws, because it is almost impossible to function in modern society and deny these laws. Science, which strives to understand these laws, has accomplished many of the "miracles" claimed by christian theology which they have not been able to reproduce. We stand upon scientific achievement in almost every aspect of our lives. Yet, when science proves something contradictory to what they accept as dogma, they want to reject scientific information in favor of blind faith. Life expectancy is at the highest in history, people with a range of medical conditions are no longer doomed to slow and painful death, horrible diseases such as smallpox have been virtually eradicated, electronics and prosthetics allows those with missing limbs to have options in their lives, genetic science has allowed us to grow more food than we can consume in America, we have reached beyond our planet- sending robots to mars and men to the moon, we have seen other suns, other galaxies, and even into the past, to the early times of our universe, we can communicate almost instantly with anyone we wish, we can share ideas frequently and quickly with people we are geographically isolated from. All of these accomplishments are based in science. Would any of these have been available to us if science was subordinate to dogma? Yet, despite its proven record of achievement, most christians would toss it out (in theory) as soon as it conflicts with dogma. This leads to strange dissonance like the fact that many christians support dna evidence to prove identity in trials or to indicate kinship such as paternity, they reject the same techniques, the same types of genetic markers, the same evidence when it proves in the same way that we share a common ancestor with chimpanzees.
Christians must suppress all rational approaches to morality. For a christian, what is moral is pre-packaged and shipped to him. Considerations about why something is right or wrong, or considerations involving risks and benefits, positive and negative consequences, and the what option provides the most happiness to the largest number of people with the least negative impact are insignificant since notions of morality have already been determined. Natural altruism is dismissed despite examples of cooperation in the wild by creatures who have no faith. The question of the moral basis of the many societies, past and present, who do not have faith in their God is often overlooked completely. Instead they assume that you either adhere to their faith, or are immoral.
In fact, the christian must have a whimsical view of evil. After all, the christian God is all-loving and all-good. Anything their God does must, by definition, be good. Evil is definied as being antithetical to their God. But, that means that slavery, genocide, and human sacrifice, as depicted in the Bible were not objectively evil, since their God commanded it. When the basis of evil or immorality is not rational, but rather based on something as spurious and ambiguous as the whim of a questionable being as interpreted by human followers, then the door is open for truly heinous acts to be committed on a grand scale by followers who believe themselves to be doing what is righteous and good.
The christian must live with the arrogance of their position. The christian must believe in the absolute truth of his position. Even in the face of alternative explanations by other belief systems, or perhaps evidence from scientific discovery, the christian will accept that their belief and their dogma is absolutely, unquestionably true. An entire industry of apologetics has arisen just to try and provide post-hoc rationalizations of all the contradictions in the bible, so that the illusion of biblical infallibility can be maintained. Despite being aware that all the core knowledge within their belief structure is contained in a few documents written thousands of years ago in a desert choked region filled with many cultures, most of which had similar documents with similar stories, and many of the stories disagree with scientific and historical knowledge, they must arrogantly assert that everyone else is wrong and only they have truth.
The christian must deny the validity of historical proof. Many christians accept the bible as the perfectly inspired infallible word of God. Yet, the bible contains many stories and concepts that do not agree with history. For example, by the biblical chronology, the story of an ancient global flood in which all died save one family, would have happened sometime during ancient Egypt. Yet, there is a detailed historic record of dynastic succession and Egyption history from the period of time before the flood took place. There is no gap in the record. There is no mention of the flood. There is no evidence of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no evidence of the tower of Babel. Many biblical claims are contradicted by the historical record, yet it would take only one inaccuracy to reasonably bring into question the inspired nature of the bible. Yet, the christian will overlook these errors and maintain the facade of biblical perfection.
The christian must imagine that humans have greater significance than all other life. The christian ideology places humans in a central role, a special creation loved most by their creator. Yet, the fact that genetics shows we are related to all other life, our dna has the same basic chemical composition as mold, is lost on them. We eke out a brief existence on a smallish planet, third of nine in orbit around a mundane star, stuck on some lonely edge of a single spiral arm of an rather normal galaxy. We don't appear to be central to anything. We humans have been around in our modern form for less than 200,000 years out of 4,500,000,000 years of Earth's existence. There was a lot of wasted time if all of this was for us. Christians can get so caught up in wanting to be something that they miss the beauty of being part of everything.
Always remember, the christian's belief in God is based on the absence of evidence and suppression of evidence contrary. If God provided evidence of his existence, faith would be unnecessary. Faith is central to christian belief. If God provides evidence to some but not to all, then God is discriminating and petty and unworthy of worship. This is especially true if he only provides it to those who already believe. Christians theology thrives not on evidence of god's existence, but rather on hopes, fears, and suppression of questions, rational considerations, and alternative views.
-The Southern Fried Skeptic